Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bent By Love ~ Lessons From a Rainbow

After spring showers we occasionally see the magic that follows in the sky above us. Stray bits of moisture come together to form an arch in the sky that bends light to form colors that dazzle us and remind us of a promise made long ago.

We find this promise in Genesis 9:13-17 when God explains his covenant with Noah and all mankind.
Today when we see a rainbow in the sky we often associate it with the word "promise" because it reminds us of God's faithfulness. However, have you ever noticed the shape of the rainbow?

Recently, it struck me in a powerful way that this great symbol shows light leaving the earth (to the ground upward) then light returning to the earth (the bending arch back down).

When God created the world he cherished and enjoyed his work. He put his whole self into it. The Bible tells us that He was pleased with His creation. Over time humanity became unrecognizable to Him. Tainted by sin and rebellion He was disillusioned by humanity's state.

I believe God's first regret is evident in Genesis 6:6 where it says " And the Lord was sorry that he made man on the earth, and he was grieved in His heart." Wow! His pain was so deep that He was done with His creation.

Imagine your child holding up a broken toy. They once loved it and treasured it, but now it's lost it's value. It will not take long for that child to cast the toy aside and find a new working toy to love and enjoy.
Humanity was in that same state of brokenness. God's disappointment was like light leaving the earth, departing with disappointment and disgust, regrets raining in his mind. In Genesis 6:7 God says . . ." I am sorry that I have made them." Ouch!
Then something strange happens. Just as this light and hope is about to turn away from creation something catches Gods eye. Some movement turns God's head and He watches with eagerness at the one thing in creation that still honors Him. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:8). God found something redeemable in Noah. He found a working piece of this broken toy and He saw hope.

Noah was obedient enough to endure the mockery of a sinful world and He began to follow God's directions to build an arc and fill it as God ordered. As the rains began to fall and the storm clouds formed, God bent down in mercy and placed his hand over the door of the arc to seal His treasure in safety (Gen. 7:16).

There are many times in the Bible and modern history that God's people have called on to "bend down and hear their prayer". There are also many Biblical example of God bending to hear, bending to feed, or even bending down to write in the ground.

Remember the story in John 8 about the woman caught in adultery? In verse 8 Jesus stooped down and "wrote on the ground with His finger." What might he have written? Whatever he wrote, combined with His words, brought conviction.

The story just confirms what we already knew about God. When others are bent on revenge, God is bent on mercy.

When the heart of God was broken in Noah's day by the complete depravity of the world, His glory began to pull away. Then He saw Noah and in mercy He bent back toward humanity. Like a rainbow, he changed course, he arched back to His creation and was bent by the love He saw in Noah's heart.

When I became a Mom I was eager to create life. You probably were too. You may have worked hard to create that life. Maybe you took your temperature, saw a fertility doctor, or worked a different and challenging road of adoption. In either case, you worked to create your family.

Then that child began to grow.

I'll never forget the first time I heard my child use the word "I hate you". The anger and rebellion that flowed from the tiny mouth was shocking and it broke my heart. In that moment I couldn't recognize my own child. I just saw the source of my pain. I felt the disappointment and fear that perhaps I'd made a mistake. Maybe parenthood wasn't for me.

I picked up that tiny little body and placed it in a time out. Truth be told I needed a time out myself to sort out my feelings and find the correct response. It took about two minutes until the little pouting face began to show remorse and slowly I watched love come out of teary little eyes.

How could I resist? I bent down. Eye to eye I faced her. I protected her in my arms from the anger that had only moments before flooded the room like a storm and threatened to destroy our most precious bond.

The rainbow is a promise. It's also so much more. It's Gods love bent down to hug humanity. It's a second chance to turn from our selfish, evil ways and love God bigger. It's a miracle in the sky that can also remind us mothers to bend in love, forgive when we are hurt, and show mercy when other's would seek revenge.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What’s In The Bible?

A new video series has hit the market this month.  Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales is pumped up about the new message of his series that centers on biblical theology presented at a child-friendly level.  The concept of What’s In The Bible? was God-driven.  It’s evidence that God is patient and He works things together for our good.
Check out Phil Vischer’s testimony about What’s In The Bible? and catch his vision to see a true understanding of the bible develop in the hearts and minds of children.
My family recently had the privilege of viewing an advanced copy of episodes 1 and 2.  Each of the episode combat  the educational problems of teaching the Bible in a format that pushes children to go deeper, while respecting the attention span of young children.
What can you expect from What’s In The Bible?
Adorable puppet characters tackle heavy questions like “What is the Bible?” “What’s it about?” and “Why should I care?”
You’ll meet quirky characters like Buck Denver the “Man of news”.  Buck Denver is the Anchor Man for Jelly News.  He has a wonderful segment titled Big Questions With Buck Denver.  In the segment he presents a montage of kid’s responses to tough questions.  I always enjoy the simple poignancy of a child’s answers.
Along with Buck Denver, children will meet Chuck Wagon.  He is a blue puppet from the Bible Belt who strums his guitar and explains the Bible in song.
Also, meet the Sunday School Lady.  She is a “professional” Sunday school teacher who travels with her magic flannel graph.  I love her!  She’s hilarious and a great throw back to the old school kid’s church.
Ian and Clive are twin explorer/ safari puppets that add humor, distract a little with silly elements, and ask just the right questions to keep kids focused.
Dr. Schniffenhousen is a scientist who looks at the surface of things while the Sunday School Lady jumps in and dives deeper.
Captain Pete the Pirate leads children through the history of the church.  He’s very informative.
Pastor Paul the puppet is on hand to answer some tricky questions.
Brother Louie is a jazzy theologian who loves scat.  He’s so cute!
Michael, Agnus, and Winnifred are peripheral characters that are viewing the show and making little comments along the way.  Michael is a little boy puppet who is a  passenger in his mom’s minivan watching the DVDs on a tv screen on his way to Grandma’s.  Agnus is a cynical old lady in pearls who is hanging out at home with her friend, Winnifred waiting for American Idol to come on.
The characters of What’s in the Bible each have funny and  engaging personalities that children are sure to love.
Children will learn about  how the Bible is made.  They’ll learn about the 66 books of the Bible using over 40 authors written over 1600 years.  The explanations of the Septuagint, Apocrypha and the differences between the Catholic and Protestant Bibles are handled in a very fair and neutral historical perspective.
Great questions are asked about what the bible is all about.
In Episode 1: In the Beginning children will learn how to listen to God’s voice and not others.  It covers creation and Genesis while explaining sin and how to avoid it.
Episode 2: Let My People Go! covers the topics of salvation, and redemption.  This episode also debunks some of the confusing myths about the bible presented in the DaVinci Code and other fictional accounts.   The plan of God’s rescue from our sin is laid out within the stories of the patriarchs.
I highly recommend What’s In The Bible? Phil Vischer is extraordinarily gifted at presenting the gospel to children.  Great job Phil!  Just stay away from the sew at home fabrics. ;)
Thanks for checking out my review.  Keep reading for some great freebies and a give away!
Click the link below to access free coloring pages!  Bust out the crayons and introduce your kids to Buck Denver. . . and friends!
If that’s not enough of a freebie, I have been given two gift certificates which I will be happy to send to two lucky readers!
The certificates may be redeemed at your local Christian bookstore for one free copy of What’s In The Bible? My winners will either receive a certificate for Episode 1: In The Beginning or Episode 2: Let My People Go!
How can you win?  Very simple.  Just comment on this post by six (Central Time) Monday, March 29th.  Please include your name, e-mail address, and the ages of your children.  *You do not have to include your child’s name (as this may be sensitive) just include age.  I will do a random drawing and announce my winner on Monday night.  Isn’t that simple?  Don’t miss out on the chance to win one of these great new DVDs!
Official Stop On The What's In The Bible Blog Tour
To get more information please visit:
*This DVD was a complimentary product given to me in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are

Start Here Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are  by Alex and Brett Harris reads like a manual for their previous book, Do Hard Things.  Where the first book inspires teens to be more than society expects, Start Here continues the talk by examining ways to start doing hard things.  The book discusses some of the hurdles that one may face to get an idea going.
I was astounded and blessed by the wisdom that these young men share.
I’m no teenager, (I’m 30 in fact!), yet this book has inspired and convicted me.  Their cautions on pride really stepped on my toes.  I think fear of being wrongly proud has actually held me back in some of the hard things I’ve tried to do.  Now they have equipped me with a safeguard for my heart by examining and explaining how to handle pride when it rises up in you.
I was also very impressed with their views on the difference between business and fruitfulness.  Wow was I ever convicted!
What makes this book especially cool is that Alex and Brett share real life stories of teens that have taken the concept to Do Hard Things and applied it in their lives.  From these stories Alex and Brett build their foundation for Start Here
Readers will find practical advice, timely wisdom, a list of 100 suggestions of hard things to try, discussions for deeper study of each chapter, and a greater motivation to stay faithful to their God-given callings.
Start Here is an excellent book for teens, or anyone taking the mission to go deeper with God and do the things he calls them to with excellence.
Awesome book!  Check it out here.
*This book was provide for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Beneath A Southern Sky

Beneath a Southern Sky by Deborah Raney 
 Daria Camfield is expecting her first child when her husband Nate is reported dead on the mission field. Devastated, she returns to the States and soon marries again. But two years later Nate is found alive in the jungle. How can Daria possibly choose between the two men who love her?
My Review:
Beneath A Southern Sky  had an interesting and emotional plot.  As a reader I tend to have a habit of immersing myself in the characters and placing myself in their shoes.  In this case it was a very hard place to be.  I struggled to read Beneath A Southern Sky because I just could not relate at all to the character’s mindset.  I not only disagreed with many of her choices and responses in this book, but felt downright angry at Daria Camfield/Hunter.  I felt that she was a character who didn’t really know herself.  She was led into things by the men in hr life and never really took control of her own identity.  I was frustrated and unable to truly get behind her as a reader.
I felt like the author was trying to steer me in a direction I didn’t really want to go.  If I believed the love of my life was dead only to find him alive I would not view it as a tragedy.  Daria’s decision to move on after Nate’s death was not my problem.  Love happens.  Often it comes unplanned, but at a time when it’s most needed. 
My issue was with her response upon hearing that Nate was alive.  Her choice to stay with Cole or return to Nate was immaterial, she saw his life as a tragedy.  I couldn’t understand that.  At the least she should have felt thankful for the miracle of his survival regardless of the obstacle or inconvenience it created for her personal life.  I just didn’t feel her compassion for Nate.  I also wasn’t pleased with the “romance” between Daria and Cole.  I just didn’t like him as a character at all.  He was mean, controlling, impatient with Daria’s daughter and just unlikable.  Cole also kept a very huge secret from Daria well into their marriage.  To me, that alone would have been a deal breaker.  I couldn’t root for them.
This is a well written book.  The author does have a talent with words, but I failed to get behind her direction in this story.  I thought her characterization was also a  little weak.  Bottom line, I didn’t enjoy this book.  It isn’t a story I’d place on my list of books to recommend.  In the future I will look at other books written by Deborah Raney because she can weave a story.  Beneath A Southern Sky just wasn’t the story for me. 
You can find out more about Beneath A Southern Sky here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love and War

Together, John and Stasi Elridge wrote an honest and brave depiction of Marriage.  Love and War is a unique look at marriage from the perspectives of the husband and the wife.  The authors share with the reader the challenges of marriage that they faced and they cleverly use their experiences to tie in biblical truths.
John and Stasi teach readers how to discern that there is an enemy that strives to stop love in all its forms.  They explain how to handle differences and accept our styles of relating.  They encourage readers to know their spouse’s life story with the goal of better understanding their spouse’s personality and to help explain their spouse’s reactions.  They explain their path to healing hurts of the past and becoming vulnerable and open.  This healing task allows for a deeper relationship and makes room for our genuine honesty, where we are how God designed us and not the people we hoped to reshape.  Love and War tackles issues like expectations and the pressures that we place on our marriage.    Readers learn to fight for their marriage.  Yes it’s hard, but it’s worth it.
Love and War is a book you’ll want to read, think about, and discuss as a couple.  The transparency in Love and War is refreshing and insightful
Learn more about Love and War at the Waterbrook Multnomah website.
Happy reading!
This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Voice New Testament

The Voice New Testament is a new translation that uses  the careful input of biblical scholars and contributing writers.  Together they poured over the scriptures and created a translation that is modern in its readability without sacrificing the intelligence and literary richness of the Word of God.  The Voice New Testament includes devotional commentary and introductions to each book.

I began my review by reading Romans.  I was quickly hooked with the Voice translation.   The introduction was very well written and the flow of the book had a very personal feel without compromising God’s Word.  I usually read out of the New Living Translation because I have a hard time comprehending the King James Version.  To me, the Voice is a bit truer to traditional translations and I actually prefer it to the NLT.  This translation doesn’t dumb down the gospel or talk in slang.  It’s real and unforced.  It simplifies without doubting the reader’s intelligence.  I really enjoy reading this Bible. 

The Voice New Testament is printed in soft cover.  My copy had a huge flaw from the end of John to through Acts.  The typesetting is doubled and the pages were just too blurred to read.  Hopefully, not all copies were printed this way.  Flip through your copy before you buy and be sure.   

To find out more about the Voice visit Thomas Nelson.   
*As a member of BookSneeze, Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.  I am not paid for my review.  I offer my opinion freely and voluntarily.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dug Down Deep

In his latest book, Joshua Harris challenges the all too familiar habit of playing church and urges Christians to return to the rock of theological study that can make a walk with God more meaningful.

Dug Down Deep is a brave and successful attempt at proving the need for orthodoxy.  Joshua Harris delivers theology in language that is understandable and easily applied.  He provokes the habitual Christian to lay aside the title of “Christian” and dig deeper to the heart of what they believe about God. 

Joshua Harris explains that everyone has a concept of God, some theological perception that shapes how we view and respond to God.  He challenges readers to seek God’s word and flips our perceptions upside down to get to the truth of who God really is through careful examination of scripture.  Does your idea of God match scripture?  

Dug Down Deep takes the fear out of studying theology.  It captures the real hunger for God to strip away our ideas and pour in His truth.  Joshua tackles big ideas and explains deep concepts in a style anyone can grasp.

I think Dug Down Deep would work well for teens, new believers, or solid Christians seeking a more sincere faith.  Expect to be challenged and inspired. 

I really enjoyed the conversational tone of Dug Down Deep.  Without sacrificing the seriousness of the topic ,he broadens the audience for theological study and puts it in terms that anyone can grab hold of.  Joshua Harris wrote like a friend sitting down with his pals and explaining the heart of who God is and why any of it should matter to them.  He’s real and transparent which makes this a very readable study of theology.

You can check out an excerpt here  to see what I mean.

Visit for more information on Dug Down Deep.

Also, on a slightly unrelated side note, if you have teens I recommend checking out this site.  You’ll find tons there to encourage a teen to a deeper walk with God, as well as excellent Josh Harris videos and posts from Alex and Brett Harris.

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of WaterBrook, January 2010